Jared Mason was going up and down the aisles at the grocery store and, rather than shopping for anything in particular, he was thinking about the villain of his studio's next VR game.
"What would she say? What kind of attitude does she have?"
Mason is a long-time developer at Schell Games and I Expect You To Die players might be familiar with his voice as The Handler narrating you through your deadly missions. While people play the I Expect You To Die games for their escape room-like puzzles, one of the defining features of the games is an impressive James Bond-inspired opening credits sequence at the start.
For the third game in this budding franchise the developers looked to make a richer environment and more fully developed villain in Dr. Roxana Prism. The extra effort plays out in the Cog In The Machine song as well and that's why Mason was making his way through the grocery store while filtering out potential song lyrics in his head as he hummed them to himself.
We previously covered Schell's effort to realize Dr. Prism as a villain with complexity, and for Mason in the grocery store there was a challenge in finding just the right poetic metaphors to express her views to the player right at the start of I Expect You To Die 3.
Here's one segment of the lyrics:
All that's left is who's right
And who pays for their sin
No backing down, no giving up
No more accepting just good enough
I have a world to make
Unbreakable rules to break
I’ll build the castle; I’m the queen
You're just a cog in my machine
The opening sequence "changed a lot from just kind of this labor of love in the first game to really crafting things for these performers," Mason said, with the dichotomy in the first line taking "a long time to find" to "marry that villain character to poetry."
Produced over successive iterations before bringing a demo to Haley Reinhart, Cog In the Machine was composed by Frank Lubsey and Bay Area Sound with music performed by Dynamedion. The opening sequence's visual effects were created by Jeff Hoffman and Justin Calder.
"Even though I think we did a good job of like lyrics, melody, and everything like that, it didn't really come together until her voice was on it," Lubsey said of Reinhart's vocals.
You can see the finished piece in the YouTube video below or experience it in VR with the game's release on August 17 on Quest 2.
We'll have one more article looking at the development of I Expect You To Die 3 as part of our latest Upload Access series, followed by our review of the latest game in the growing franchise.